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‘Costata Romanesco’: A zucchini that will make you smile

If you like zucchini, I think you’ll love ‘Costata Romanesco.’ If you don’t like zucchini, please keep reading. It may change your life.

I became acquainted with this extraordinary summer squash many years ago, and it’s the only zucchini I plant each year. Will Bonsall, well-known Maine seed-saver, and farming/gardening guru reportedly mused that it’s “the only summer squash worth bothering with, unless you’re just thirsty.” Although its Italian name is beautiful, I will refer to it as CR to save space.

‘Costata Romanesco’ flowers are large and can remain attached for some time.
Late-season ‘Costata Romanesco’ fruits.

CR is a stunner with alternating dark green and light green stripes with white flecking, like ‘Cocozelle’ and some other Italian varieties. “Costata” means rib in Italian. Fruits develop 8-10 prominent ribs which give cross-cut slices a unique and fun look. It has a dry, meaty texture, not unlike eggplant, that holds up when sauteed, baked, broiled, steamed, or grilled. It has a distinctive flavor described as sweet, nutty, and earthy. In addition to shredding it for cakes and breads I find it makes the best zucchini fritters (see recipe below). This year, I’m freezing loads of shredded CR.

Grate, bag, and freeze extra-large zucchini fruits.

Tips for getting the most from CR:

‘Costata Romanesco’ plants need elbow room.
Roots from a zucchini plant stem that grew into the soil.

Saving seeds:

Seeds being saved for 2021.

Zucchini fritter recipe

2 lbs. shredded zucchini

1 medium onion finely chopped (can substitute scallions)

2 eggs

1 cup panko

2 tsp. salt

1 tsp. black pepper

1 ½ tsp. turmeric

1 ½ tsp. paprika

Shred the zucchini and either squeeze out excess water by hand or allow it to drain in a colander.

Mix all ingredients and shape into patties. Fry in vegetable oil until brown on both sides. Makes 15 fritters. Serve with plain yogurt.

By Jon Traunfeld, Extension Specialist. Read more posts by Jon.

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